From the outside looking in, most translators probably seem lone wolves, happily working at their desks all day with hardly any social contact. In fact, many freelancers highlight being their own boss and making all the decisions as one of the main reasons why they pursued a self-employed career.
But the reality can be quite different, even if you don’t work in an agency’s office. Because translators are increasingly realising the benefits of working together on projects and sharing their knowledge.
In the Group Translation Chats (GTC) session in January, hosted by Ellen Singer, we talked about the pros and cons of teamwork and how and when we can work better together.
Attending online events I’d never manage to go to in person is one of the few advantages of the COVID-19 pandemic. So along with a handful of Group Translation Chats (GTC) members, I signed up for the CopyCon 2020 conference held by ProCopywriters.
Long before we got to the talk on perfectionism, some speakers floated the idea that copy doesn’t have to be perfect. Sandra Wu from Blinkist told us that perfectionists were wasting their time because people skim content and only read around 30% of what you write. Copy doesn’t need to be beautiful and engaging to convert and so rewriting text to make the language better doesn’t pay off.
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication Part 5 – Numbers (3)
This is the third and final post on numbers (see below for links to the previous two posts).
Whether to write numbers as figures or words, put abbreviations before or after them, or leave spaces between symbols preceding or following them is all far more complicated than we might at first imagine.
It’s also easy to get confused as style-guide rules and recommendations can differ and many non-native speakers writing or translating into English simply copy usage in their own language, which is often not correct. As a translator and editor, I’ve written these posts on numbers to highlight errors I’ve come across in my work and also to clear my own confusion between source usage and UK and US English preferences.
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication Part 4 – Numbers (2)
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication is a series within the Bite-sized Tips series.
In the first and second instalments, I presented some common errors I find in the academic papers I revise or edit. Although they are generally made by non-native speakers of English in the texts I see, a lot of them can trip us up as well, especially as there are often differences between US and UK usage and everything can become quite muddled.
In the third instalment I looked at some issues with numbers. As it’s a vast, complicated area and lots of mistakes crop up, I’ve divided the focus on numbers into three parts. This is the second of those parts on dates and currencies.
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication Part 3 – Numbers (1)
I spend a lot of my work time improving academic texts. This can involve revising the translations that authors have produced of their own work or editing their non-native efforts at writing directly into English. Unfortunately, the results are never error-free and, as I mostly revise and edit articles and papers written by Spanish speakers, I repeatedly come across the same mistakes.
In the first instalment of this series within a series, I highlighted ten of these common mistakes including the use of etc. and et al.
In the second, I focused on whether to use data is or data are, some punctuation problems and issues with capitalisation.
A recent tourism editing job had me scouring through many translated websites of hotels (Spanish to English, my pair) and I was appalled to see the same mistakes made again and again.
Of course, this might be because the company used machine translation (MT) or non-native speakers for the job. Because a lot of people think tourism texts are so simple that MT will be good enough.
Unfortunately, that’s why many in the sector refuse to allocate a high enough budget to translating their marketing material. The less they are willing to spend, the more likely their translated text will fail.
Last week, after trying to attend one for ages, I finally managed to go to my first ever translation slam. If you don’t know what that is, you’re not alone. Although they’ve been happening for several years, they seem to have focused firstly on literary texts (which not many of us actually translate for a living) and/or been held at conferences that target a particular language pair (French and English in the “Translate in…” series) or that sell out quickly (MET, ITI).
However, Bath and Bristol universities are now holding regular translation slams in conjunction with the ITI WRG (Western Regional Group). And I hope that more ITI groups and other associations and universities will get on board as slams are a great way to delve into the minds of our colleagues, explore translation choices and improve our own craft.
During my translation work I often come across words that the author has put in italics, quotations marks, or in italics within quotation marks. And often the way they use them throughout the text is inconsistent.
As translators, we have to take a step back from the usage in the original document and remember the rules of our own brand of English. Mirroring the source is not an option. And we also have to smooth out all the inconsistencies.
Whether you put words, terms, titles, etc., into italics, quotations or in roman type will depend on the style manual you have been told to follow. And if you haven’t been given any specific instructions, it’ll depend on whether you use a British, American, Canadian, Australian, etc., guide for your work. You’ll find a long list of style guides (over 40) on the Writing-related Resources page.
This is a stylistic minefield and the most important aspect to remember is to be consistent throughout your document and in all the documents for a particular client. If you are ever asked to use a specific style guide, then this is an area you’ll definitely need to look up because there are so many variations. This post is going to focus on the recommendations in the New Oxford Style Manual and compare them with those found in The Chicago Manual of Style, so essentially the difference between UK and US usage.